Purdue is Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion and Diversity

Purdue joins NSF and ASME Engineering Diversity initiative.

Purdue has announced it will be creating projects as part of the Transforming Engineering Culture to Advance Inclusion and Diversity (TECAID) program.

The goal of the program is to close the gender and minority gap within mechanical engineering. This will be done by attracting and retaining women and minorities to mechanical engineering programs and by creating a culture of inclusion and interaction.

“In order to compete and succeed in the global economy, countries must better engage the engineering and scientific talent of diverse populations,” said Thomas Perry, director of engineering education at ASME.

“Today, many thousands of gifted individuals, most notably women and underrepresented minorities, remain a disproportionally small fraction of those in engineering careers,” he added. “While at the same time the opportunities and rewards of an engineering career have never been better.”

As the co-creator of Makerbot, Bre Pettis once said, “It is our job to inspire [our daughters] to be the next generation of innovators, there are way too many dudes in the room.” It is great to inspire women and minorities to join the engineering fold. Many other programs exist to this effect, though not many as notable as TECAID, the Next MacGyver project and competitions like EcoCAR3.

However, it isn’t enough to inspire women and minorities into engineering. We must make the environment habitable for those individuals to thrive. This cannot work as long as a confidence gaps and prejudice still exists.  It appears that TECAID sees these issues as contributing factors to the problem and is trying to correct them.

Many tools like Piazza already exist to limit confidence gaps of students by masking their identities in online class discussions. However, it is much harder to limit the prejudice. Up north, the University of Toronto (U of T) has done a lot to increase its female engineering population to 30.6 percent, a 21.6 percent increase in six years. Dean Cristina Amon of U of T attributes this increase to the growing acceptance in the school.

“U of T Engineering is a rich environment for talented, bright women to become engineering leaders… Diverse perspectives are the foundation of our culture of excellence in research, education, service and innovation,” Amon said. “This achievement is encouraging as we continue our proactive efforts to foster diversity within the Faculty, among universities and across the engineering profession.”

Perhaps TECAID could learn a lot from U of T. Imagine the powerful message if TECAID became an international initiative by bringing U of T into the fold. Currently, however, only American universities are participating in the program. They include:

The TECAID program is funded by the NSF and led by the WEPAN, ASME and Purdue.

“The College of Engineering at Purdue is delighted to collaborate with WEPAN (Women in Engineering ProActive Network) and ASME, building on a long tradition of innovation related to diversity and inclusion in engineering, to change the culture and climate in mechanical engineering departments across the U.S. and impact positively the education and diversity of many future engineers,” said Klod Kokini, Purdue associate dean and mechanical engineering professor.

Diane Matt, WEPAN executive director, added, “WEPAN is excited to partner with ASME and Purdue on TECAID. Together, we’re leveraging ASME’s Vision 2030 advocacy strategy for advancing mechanical engineering education and their extensive network of ME department heads and faculty; WEPAN’s commitment to advancing inclusive culture in engineering; and Purdue’s longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity.”

For more information on TECAID, follow this link.

Written by

Shawn Wasserman

For over 10 years, Shawn Wasserman has informed, inspired and engaged the engineering community through online content. As a senior writer at WTWH media, he produces branded content to help engineers streamline their operations via new tools, technologies and software. While a senior editor at Engineering.com, Shawn wrote stories about CAE, simulation, PLM, CAD, IoT, AI and more. During his time as the blog manager at Ansys, Shawn produced content featuring stories, tips, tricks and interesting use cases for CAE technologies. Shawn holds a master’s degree in Bioengineering from the University of Guelph and an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Waterloo.